This weekend, "The Croods," the latest animated marvel from DreamWorks Animation, invades movie theaters nationwide. Directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco, the film follows a prehistoric family of Neanderthals who venture out after the only home they’ve known is destroyed.
To mark the occasion we thought we would look back at the five most soaring triumphs in the DreamWorks Animation canon.
From "Shrek" to "Antz," check out our picks below.
The first "Shrek," a kind of fractured fairy tale told from the supposedly villainous ogre's point of view, would become the backbone of the DreamWorks Animation enterprise, spawning three sequels, one spin-off, two holiday specials, a costly Broadway show, and an interactive theme park attraction. If you can clear your mind of the endless tangential "Shrek" material, the first film remains a pretty charming little movie with a whole lot of heart. Mike Myers, in the titular role, does a fabulous job of making an ogre lovable and Eddie Murphy, in a performance eerily reminiscent of his role in "Mulan," steals the show as a wise-cracking Donkey.
4. ‘Kung Fu Panda’
DreamWorks Animation was always willing to take chances, and "Kung Fu Panda," a CGI kung fu movie, represents one such chance. "Kung Fu Panda" would have been a fiasco if it hadn't really brought it when it came to the movie's action sequences, but it totally does, whether it's the final battle or the sequence where the villain (voiced by Ian McShane) breaks out of prison. The central comedic plot, about a panda (voiced by Jack Black) who ascends to kung fu superstardom, is actually moving, with some fairly profound things to say about body image and realizing your dreams.
While Pixar’s "A Bug's Life" is, ultimately, the better film, "Antz" is still one of DWA's crowning achievements -- dark, exciting, satirical, and anchored by an unbelievable lead performance by Woody Allen as a drone ant caught up in a giant conspiracy (Allen supposedly rewrote large swaths of the script to better suit him). From an animation standpoint, "Antz" hasn't aged as well -- it looks jagged, blocky, muddy and crude, although it's certainly got more character than the anonymously rubbery look of things like "Megamind" or "Shark Tale."
2. ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’
The "Wallace & Gromit" shorts had always been interested in genre (the Oscar-winning "The Wrong Trousers" is about the best Hitchcock knock-off this side of Brian De Palma's oeuvre), so it isn't much of a surprise that for the feature they would tackle the classic Hammer horror movie of the ‘70s, this time with a decidedly cuddly feel -- instead of a werewolf chomping on villagers, it's a were-rabbit nibbling on people's vegetables. One of the more inventive and visually stunning animated features this side of Pixar, the stop-motion confection is full of delirious wit and staggering set pieces.
1. ‘How To Train Your Dragon'
While directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders weren't the first to work on the project, this is totally their movie -- and not just because lead dragon Toothless is quite obviously based on something Sanders drew on a cocktail napkin. Since its release in 2010, "How to Train Your Dragon," a project based on a series of books by Cressida Cowell, has become the biggest franchise for the company since "Shrek," inspiring an animated series, Christmas special, and forthcoming sequel (directed by DeBlois).